Wilkerson, Hart, Koretsky, Sampey win Carolina Nationals

Just one race removed from the Countdown (NHRA’s version of the NASCAR playoffs), the action heated up this past weekend at the zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Tim Wilkerson won in Funny Car, while Josh Hart upset Brittany Force, Kyle Koretsky defeated all-time great Greg Anderson, and Angelle Sampey picked up her 44th career victory over Joey Gladstone in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Funny Car

Five years – 2016: You would have to go back five years to find the last time Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson earned two victories in one season. Since then, the Springfield, Illinois native went on a winless streak from 2017 to 2021.

Wilkerson broke the winless streak at the U.S. Nationals, one race prior to the beginning of the Countdown. Heading into the Countdown, Wilkerson’s team was hoping to make some noise and he did so Sunday afternoon by eliminating two-time Funny Car champion, Cruz Pedregon.

“It was tremendous pressure today and a crazy day,” said Wilkerson, who now has two victories at zMAX Dragway. “It was a tough day and we barely made it to the rounds in the semifinals and finals. I’m very proud of my guys. We were thrashing and I’m worn out. Sometimes, there’s too much time to stare at the (car) and make changes. Today, I made wholesale changes and lived with them, and it worked out.”

Wilkerson qualified in the eighth position and paired up with a first-round matchup against the No. 9 qualifier, Bob Tasca III. Wilkerson defeated Tasca going 3.931 seconds and 323.58 mph to advance to the quarterfinals where he was slated to go up against 16-time champion and championship points leader, John Force. As the two drivers rocketed off the staging lane, it initially appeared that Force had grabbed the victory. But, unfortunately for Force, he was disqualified after hitting a cylinder block.

As Force was disqualified, Wilkerson was handed the victory and once again was in a rematch of the U.S. Nationals with NAPA Dodge driver, Ron Capps. Wilkerson again advanced and eliminated Capps going 3.909 seconds and 315.42 mph to face Cruz Pedregon in the finals.

Pedregon defeated Dave Richards, J.R. Todd, and won over Alexis DeJoria in the semis to advance to the 80th semi-final of his Funny Car career.

In the finals, Wilkerson got off the starting line and powered over Pedregon’s Snap-On machine to score his third career victory.

Pedregon finished second earning his second runner-up finish of the season and the 42nd of his career.

Funny Car Results

  1. Tim Wilkerson
  2. Cruz Pedregon
  3. Ron Capps
  4. Alexis DeJoria
  5. Matt Hagan
  6. J.R. Todd
  7. Terry Haddock
  8. John Force
  9. Jim Campbell
  10. Blake Alexander
  11. Bob Tasca III
  12. Mike McIntire
  13. Tony Jurado
  14. Robert Hight
  15. Dave Richards

Funny Car Championship Points Standings

  1. Ron Capps, 2,233 points
  2. Matt Hagan, -5
  3. John Force, -25
  4. J.R. Todd, -46
  5. Cruz Pedregon, -52
  6. Robert Hight, -72
  7. Tim Wilkerson, -72
  8. Alexis DeJoria, -97
  9. Bob Tasca III, -103
  10. Blake Alexander, -169

Top Fuel

Rookie Josh Hart has only competed in seven races in his debut season in Top Fuel and did not start at Las Vegas I, Epping, Denver, Sonoma, Pomona I, Topeka, and Brainerd. Even though Hart hasn’t run a whole season and wasn’t qualified for the Countdown, it doesn’t mean he can’t compete for wins.

Sunday Hart earned the second victory of his career upsetting Brittany Force in the final round. The drag race was close between Hart and Force, but as the win light came on at the top end of the racetrack, the victory went to Hart on a holeshot.

“We just planned on getting our feet wet and building the team this year, and that has obviously been accelerated,” Hart said. “The team has gelled together right away and I think the results are showing. I’m glad to be out here and the real magic happens in the pits. The guys are awesome and watching them is like a well-orchestrated symphony, and that’s where the praise needs to go. I’ve got a lot of confidence in (crew chief) Ron Douglas and I’m happy I could return the favor for them in the final round.”

Runner-up Brittany Force had high hopes heading into Charlotte as she continued her qualifying momentum this weekend by picking up her 10th No. 1 qualifier of the season. She had a first-round match with No. 16 Arthur Allen and Force was victorious with a run of 3.689 seconds and 332.67 mph to go to the quarterfinals.

In the second round, Force faced Top Fuel returner, Spencer Massey. She won again by going 3.734 seconds and 325.85 mph to advance to a semi-final round with three-time champ Steve Torrence.

Force won again in the semi-finals and eliminated Torrence though the win light came on in the wrong lane and originally gave the victory to Torrence. Despite the malfunction, Force went to the finals against Hart.

Unfortunately for Force, she continued what has been a bit of a winless streak as she finished runner-up for the fourth time this year.

“Tough for a driver to lose in the final round that way,” Force said. “Fortunately, I have a great group of guys around me in this Monster Energy/Flav-R-Pac team and we’re staying positive,” Force said. “We’re still out in front and, overall, we had a great weekend, going to the finals, getting that eighth No. 1 in a row and picking up a lot of bonus points. I’m going to put this weekend behind me, build from it, move on and plan to win the next one.”

The Monster Energy driver has not won since Topeka last month in August.

Top Fuel Results

  1. Josh Hart
  2. Brittany Force
  3. Steve Torrence
  4. Justin Ashley
  5. Spencer Massey
  6. Billy Torrence
  7. Clay Millican
  8. Mike Salinas
  9. Antron Brown
  10. Doug Kalitta
  11. Doug Foley
  12. Leah Pruett
  13. Alex Laughlin
  14. Shawn Langdon
  15. Arthur Allen
  16. Joe Morrison

Top Fuel Championship Points Standings

  1. Brittany Force, 2,274 points
  2. Steve Torrence, -21
  3. Justin Ashley, -74
  4. Billy Torrence, -82
  5. Leah Pruett, -128
  6. Mike Salinas, -136
  7. Antron Brown, -138
  8. Shawn Langdon, -141
  9. Clay Millican, -148
  10. Doug Kalitta, -210

Pro Stock

After winning last week at the Mopar Express Lane Nationals in Reading, Greg Anderson was seeking to break the all-time wins record tie in Pro Stock with Warren Johnson this weekend in Charlotte. However, with the young class of Pro Stock drivers, there were hungry drivers waiting for their moment to shine.

One of the drivers that shined was Kyle Koretsky who defeated Greg Anderson in the finals. Koretsky qualified in the fourth spot and faced Cristian Cuadra in the first round. From there, Koretsky eliminated Dallas Glenn in the quarterfinals, local favorite Wally Stroupe in the semis, and eventually Greg Anderson in the finals.

In the finals, Koretsky won his first-ever career Pro Stock victory against all-time great Anderson by setting an ET of 6.629 seconds and 208.20 mph.

“I’m out here living my dream,” Koretsky said. “KB Racing supplies me with the best power out here and my team just works flawlessly. This is huge and what I’ve wanted my whole life. Pro Stock is the most competitive class out there, and we always looked up to Greg. I just raced Greg Anderson in the final round and picked up the first Wally for my family. It feels great and I needed to get this done.”

Anderson will have to wait until next weekend at the NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis to break the tie with Warren Johnson.

“The stars were aligned,” he said. “I had a great car and something in the clutch broke. I went to start the car and drive up to the water and some $5 part broke. It cost me. It’s just another way to lose. I can’t feel bad; we had a great day, everything was going swimmingly. It was a first for me. I at least gained a few points. We love racing here, it’s home for us, no matter where we started our lives and our careers. I don’t know that you have an advantage racing at home, but it’s a powerful motivator to have your team owners, sponsors, friends, and family cheering you on. You want to win every race you go to, but there is always something special about racing here.”

Anderson had victories over Fernando Cuadra, Troy Coughlin Jr. and four-time champion Erica Enders and claimed his 68th runner-up finish.

Pro Stock Results

  1. Kyle Koretsky
  2. Greg Anderson
  3. Wally Stroupe
  4. Erica Enders
  5. Troy Coughlin Jr
  6. Deric Kramer
  7. Mason McGaha
  8. Cristian Cuadra
  9. Vincent Nobile
  10. Fernando Cuadra
  11. Kenny Delco
  12. Alan Prusiensky
  13. Matt Hartford
  14. Chris McGaha
  15. Aaron Stanfield

Pro Stock Championship Points Standings

  1. Greg Anderson, 2,327
  2. Erica Enders -65
  3. Kyle Koretsky, -91
  4. Dallas Glenn, -147
  5. Aaron Stanfield, -157
  6. Troy Coughlin Jr, -158
  7. Matt Hartford, -197
  8. Mason McGaha, -207
  9. Deric Kramer, -212
  10. Chris McGaha, -217

Pro Stock Motorcycle

It was a wild day of action in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. In the second round, teammates Joey Gladstone and Cory Reed faced each other. However, once the two bikes crossed the finish line, Reed’s bike went over in the other lane and made contact with Gladstone. Reed then fell off his bike and hit the wall. Fortunately, he was alert, conscious, and talking to the Safety Safari personnel and was transported to the local hospital.

The past month has been a challenging time for Angelle Sampey. Sampey’s hometown was affected by Hurricane Ida last month. The Louisiana driver had been without power until this past Thursday when the power came back on.

With all of what was going back in Louisiana, Sampey had to put that in the back of her mind for a couple of hours Sunday and was determined to bring home a Wally for the first time this season.

She qualified second and was paired with Ryan Oehler. The Louisiana native won over Oehler, Andrew Hines in the second round, and Eddie Krawiec to help her advance to the finals to face Joey Gladstone.

When the Christmas tree went green, Sampey came through with the win over Gladstone, as Gladstone’s bike shut off and the killswitch came unplugged. It was an emotional win, her first of the season and the 44th of her career.

“I’ve struggled this year on the Suzuki. It’s been a rocket ship and I’m getting close to where I need to be,” Sampey said. “This race, I didn’t think I was going to make it to the final. I wanted to win it for my team and I feel like we raced our butts off today. I’m very excited and proud to have my win light come on, and I definitely dedicate this Wally to southern Louisiana.”

The runner-up was the second of Gladstone’s career.

Pro Stock Motorcycle Results

  1. Angelle Sampey
  2. Joey Gladstone
  3. Eddie Krawiec
  4. Steve Johnson
  5. Andrew Hines
  6. Scotty Pollacheck
  7. Cory Reed
  8. Matt Smith
  9. Karen Stoffer
  10. Ryan Oehler
  11. Angie Smith
  12. Jim Underdahl
  13. Michael Phillips
  14. Kelly Clontz
  15. Jianna Salinas
  16. Chris Bostick

Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship Standings

  1. Steve Johnson, 2,272
  2. Angelle Sampey, -17
  3. Matt Smith, -30
  4. Eddie Krawiec, -39
  5. Scotty Pollacheck, -95
  6. Joey Gladstone, -101
  7. Cory Reed, -147
  8. Angie Smith, -150
  9. Karen Stoffer, -155
  10. Andrew Hines, -162

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.


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